McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has hit back in the wake of scathing criticism about the team's F1 2011 car, and has warned people often come 'unstuck' when they make predictions based on testing times.

BBC F1 trio Martin Brundle, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan were damning in their assessment of the MP4-26 this week, branding it 'a mess', carrying 'a fundamental issue' and even so abject as to warrant the construction of 'a whole new car' [see separate story - click here]. Whitmarsh however, unsurprisingly, sees things differently and while he conceded reliability hasn't been great, he is adamant the Woking-based outfit is making progress.

"It's simply too early to say anything definitive about the MP4-26 or indeed about any other 2011 F1 car. Time and again, motorsport pundits have come unstuck when they've attempted to extrapolate testing times to predict race results, and I'm not about to join their number now. Suffice to say that we've had a few reliability issues during testing so far, but we're confident that things are going in the right direction now," Whitmarsh explained in an interview with the official F1 website.

He also went on to say the squad has no regrets about delaying the launch of the MP4-26 until the second test. Indeed he still believes that was the right way to go, even if it has cost them potential track time with their new car.

"The reality is that every decision you make regarding the building and operation of a F1 car amounts to a calculated and strategic balancing of risk. In the case of the MP4-26, one of the most significant performance factors facing every team for 2011 was the introduction of the new Pirelli tyres - a variable that, by running at Valencia using last year's car, we felt we could more richly evaluate in isolation, on a platform that we already knew and understood," he continued.

"In actual fact, that first test proved extremely beneficial in providing us with rich, raw tyre data that we've been analyzing ever since.

"So, while I admit that the introduction of the MP4-26 has been affected by a few reliability issues, we still stand by our decision to defer its introduction by one test."



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